Q: I have heard that the divorce rate for parents of a child with autism is 80 to 90 percent. Is this true?
Many internet sources cite an 80- to 90-percent divorce rate among parents of children with autism. However, while autism does put stress on family relationships, this just isn’t true. A study from the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute found that the divorce rate among parents who have a child with autism is similar to the divorce rate of parents who do not have a child with autism. The study was based on data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health
According to Brian Freedman, the clinical director of the center, 64 percent of children with autism or an autism spectrum disorder have two married parents. In comparison, 65 percent of children without autism have two married parents.
However the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Both groups had high divorce rates when children were young. This is because young children change the focus of a marriage. Parents must focus on day-to-day child care rather than on their relationship. As the children grow, the divorce rate among parents with non-autistic children decreased. The divorce rate among parents with autistic children remained high. Perhaps this is because parents remain focused on day-to-day care.
Are you considering divorce? Make sure that your California divorce agreement takes into account the needs of your autistic child. To learn more, contact The Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan at 415-341-1144 and ask to speak with a San Francisco divorce attorney.